In the world of gastronomy, the term “sustainability” has been gaining popularity for quite some time. This word is used to identify food companies or restaurants that are committed to adhering to certain guidelines involving the use of organic foods, lowering energy and water consumption (both in production and preparation), reducing waste and recycling whatever waste remains.
This eco-conscious movement also includes the use of local products and promotes ethical business practices, which carries over into the fair treatment of employees and respect for consumer’s rights.
Two restaurants: Relae, in Denmark, and Narisawa, in Japan, are perfect illustrations of how a profound respect for the environment can lead to sustainable haute cuisine.
In 2015 and 2016, the small gastronomic establishment, located in the Nørrebro district of Copenhagen, Denmark, was deemed the best sustainable restaurant in the world. At the helm is Christian Puglisi, a young chef of Italian and Norwegian descent who is a disciple of acclaimed chefs Ferran Adrià and René Redzepi. The Michelin-starred chef relies on local produce from his farm, which he owns alongside business partner Kim Rossen, and is located just one hour away from the Danish capital.
Since Relae’s opening, Puglisi has remained adamant about the restaurant’s commitment to sustainability. Almost all products and wines served are certified organic. Fish and other seafood comes predominantly from sustainable fishing and the restaurant utilizes fair trade sugar and salts without added chemicals.
The dishes demonstrate the best of new Nordic cuisine with the restaurant offering two tasting menus daily, showcasing the day’s freshest ingredients. Food delivery is done entirely on bicycles and kitchen leftovers are converted into fertilizer. In the dining room, recycled wood reigns, while the servers’ uniforms are woven from organic materials.
In the Japanese district of Minami-Aoyama, you’ll find Narisawa, one of the best restaurants in the Japanese capital (and throughout Asia). This year, the restaurant occupies the 18th spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa, with his two Michelin stars, is fond of nature, equilibrium and sustainability.
[more-links]He bases his cuisine, which is rooted in Japanese tradition fused with Western touches (he’s a fan of French chefs and Spanish cuisine), on the elements of fire, water and earth and the forest, because Japan’s population is in constant connection with nature.
Narisawa’s ingredients are locally sourced, with many suppliers working near Tokyo. Its tasting menu is comprised of seasonal, sustainable foods. The restaurant is also an ideal destination for enjoying some of Japan’s best wines, including the Nagano pinot noir and the Iwate riesling. Narisawa’s olive oil is also native to Japan, and often, the meals’ final touches take place right in front of the visiting diners. ■